Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Friday, August 22, 2014

West Nile

This morning our alpaca, Sassafras, was having trouble using her hind legs. She was wobbly. Jenny and I picked her up - I would guess she weighs about 100 lbs - and put her in the back of the Yukon. The Yukon is a large car ideal for picking up hay or taking livestock to the vet - one livestock at a time.

The vet suspects West Nile virus. Jenny reports that the vet warned that this is sometimes fatal but also that the vet didn't seem overly concerned or at least she didn't switch into emergency mode like she did with our poor goat, Chloe.

When Jenny returned we vaccinated all seven of the remaining alpacas and our three horses. There is no vaccine for goats. Wrangling all of those alpacas is not an easy job. I sprained a finger when I accidentally jammed three of them into Seurette's hard neck.

Goat News:
The three goats have been restricted to their stall and dry lot. Fiona's udder had grown to a size that would be the envy of a small cow. But she wasn't pregnant. The diagnosis? Precocious udder. The prescription? No grazing or grain for Fiona. The vet, the same vet who is working with Sassy, said we could let her graze again - keeping and eye on her udder of course. Last I looked, the three goats were happily eating mallow and some other undesirable weeds. Good goats!

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

Danny and Gavin


These two guys died a few weeks apart a few weeks ago. Jenny rescued them both on the same day 16 years ago. Things will never be the same around here. So much of our daily routine centered around taking care of these sweet boys.




That is danny above with Diego in the background. Danny loved visitors. He would throw the entire weight of his body at their legs and plop onto their feet.



This is Gavin, dignified and old like the Jonathan Richman song. He didn't like getting his picture taken. He had an uncanny ability to tell the difference between a cell phone just being used as a cell phone and a cell phone in camera mode. That's why these photos look like a private investigator took them.




The scraggly little guy on the left is Elliot who arrived just days before Danny left. He loved Gavin. It was love at first sight.

So sad without them.

Wednesday, June 04, 2014

Stuff from the cabin that Cabin is named for


I love reading the record of the mundane activities of every day, particularly when they were written by my own family and the events took place at my favorite place in the world, Paris, France Echo Lake.


I am thinking of making postcards of some of this imagery. Probably not as interesting to people whose cabin this doesn't concern. 


Our cabin used to be much smaller, even smaller than the part labelled "existing." It used to consist only of the section with the door flanked by two windows.


I see that a door was proposed to separate the old and the new. There is a doorway but no door. I've often thought of putting a pocket door there, mainly to keep the main cabin warmer in the winter.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Farm Records

Started irrigating today in the south pasture.
Pre emergent spray for puncture vine, May 28th.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Life and Death on the Farm

Living on a farm with lots of animals is a beautiful thing. When one animal touches another - particularly if he lays his head on her body or reaches with a paw, hoof, claw or tentacle to touch another, it makes me smile every time. Seeing two animals curled up together sleeping is like Prozac (if Prozac makes you happy) for the watcher. This is universal. Baby animals make all people happy just to gaze upon and if you do not agree than you are the exception that proves the rule, the rule I just made up.

Unfortunately, until someone invents a one sided one, there are two sides to every coin. If, like on this farm, you have somewhere between fifty and 500 animals, there is an array of ages and levels of health. Sometimes, like yesterday in this case, the first indicator that you rooster is sick is his dead body lying in the dirt. Sadly, that is often the best case scenario. In the past few days Reuben and Stanley* died. Stanley, with feathers that could make a fly-tier weep, looked ok in the morning but was dead by lunch time. Reuben, tall, black and white, long beautiful tail, lethal four inch spurs and one beautiful red eye, was not so lucky. For the past few days he had been spending more time in the coop, then all of his time in the coop. One day he was "stuck" in a "hole." The "hole" could be more accurately described as a divot or a slightly low spot. He just couldn't walk up the 2% grade.Very sad to see the formerly vigorous become - no other way to say it - feeble. The next day he was found convulsing. Jenny tried to calm him. After a while he did calm down and died with his head in her hands. Reuben was one of the 12 chickens that the former owners of this farm left for us to take care of. Now there are five left. One moved to California, the rest were killed by predators.

Some deaths hit harder than others but they all suck. I know its part of life. I understand that. Like Siddhartha, when he died, it was just another experience but I still cried.

There's more on this subject coming but I am not prepared to write about it just yet.

*I just named Stanley for the purposes of this post


Saturday, April 12, 2014

Sheep Dogs


Jenny came home a few days ago with the above sheep dog that I believe to be a bearded collie, and


this boarder collie. My initial reaction was that I hope we find their home. I would happily have kept them and even happily-er if we had fewer dogs. But I wouldn't trade any of our sweet dogs (obviously) for them. Jenny put a vague ad in craisglist (we wanted to discourage opportunistic craigslisters looking for free dogs). These dogs had a distinguishing characteristic - their collars were tied together with bailing twine. When Jenny found them they were stuck on either sides of a fence. 

Their names are Iladio and Flash, respectively. We were starting to resign ourselves (or fall in love with) the idea that these were now our dogs. Then someone called looking for the dogs. They are working sheep dogs from a sheep camp not too far from our house. Gregorio, sheep herder from Peru, came and took them away a couple days ago. Before Gregorio arrived, Jenny cut off the lion's share of Iladio's mats (dreadlocks). I was starting to dream about having dogs that can run and hike with me. 

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

New Alpaca


This is Contessa Cinna. So far that's her name. Her mom is Giada, the large white shape nearest her. She was born March 20th out in the pasture some time in the afternoon. She surprised Jenny, running in after the rest of the herd for the evening feeding. Just over 17lbs.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Today's post

Before I decided to have a blog - as a joke is how it started - I used to take a break during the day or at the end of the day and write. That was satisfying, and when the blog started that satisfaction was transferred to posting. Lately, I am spread out too thin and this blog has been neglected. And I don't write things down on paper either. Paper is neglected. I miss stumbling on old notebooks that give a glimpse - or actually spell out exactly - what was happening on a given day.
If I could carve out an existence with much less computer time, or screen time, I would. The question I ask myself on a regular basis is, "What would I do if I was rich?" I would leave the house without a phone more often. I would take days off from responding to electronic enquiries. I would write with pen on paper more often. These days my hand gets tired when I write by hand.
Today I read that too much screen time is bad for the brain. I read it on Facebook. Another thing I read on the Internet was that taking a week off the Internet and devices can reset our circadian clocks. Not many people have occupations that allow for that. I recommend backpacking in the Frank Church RIver of No Return Wilderness. No Internet and almost no phone service. I have a cabin in the mountains that used to require a small journey by boat to make a phone call. I miss that. If you wanted to call someone you really had to make an effort. I would not mind living in a place where pigeons where my most efficient way to send a message.

I have to walk down to the post office now.

Sunday, January 05, 2014

Cabin Drawing


I found this photo copy of a drawing of our cabin. I do not know who the artist was.

Thursday, December 05, 2013

Animal Portraits

I am working on portraits of all the animals on the farm. 

Marc Antony
Maverick 
Chloe

Pretty Boy (Unnamed rooster)

Lovely birds
Beautiful birds 

Not an easy thing to do. 

Thursday, November 14, 2013

The Cabin



This is all we need show people before they visit our cabin. Then they will be up to speed on what to expect and how to conduct themselves.

Thursday, November 07, 2013

Colonoscopy


Getting a colonoscopy wasn’t as bad as I had heard. It wasn’t as good as I had heard either, because I had heard both. I was told to expect to sit on the toilet all day the day before while the preparation meds did their jobs. It turned out I could have gone about my regular business (which is anything but regular) until about 5 pm when things started moving. I was looking forward to a pleasant empty feeling afterward. Years ago I was living with a friend I’ll call Matt (everyone else does), and we exercised and drank fresh vegetable juice every day. One day I heard nature's call and while sitting on the toilet I started to suspect that nature would not shut up. This was by far the largest amount of matter to leave my body in my life, and probably any body in anybody's life except for maybe a woman giving birth. To twins. The feeling when I was done was euphoric but I had to check the toilet to make sure that there where no vital organs left behind. That last sentence is true. I was truly afraid of what I might find. Happily, nothing out of the ordinary except, you know, a lot of number two. But in preparing for the colonoscopy there was no euphoria; there was no pleasant feeing of emptiness. In the morning when I showed up for the procedure I was, in fact, concerned that the doctor might not find the environment up to his ideal of spotlessness. For years that passageway has been for the illumination of stuff, some pretty foul stuff at that. It seemed reasonable to suspect that a mere twenty-four hours of not eating could clean something that has, to the best of my knowledge, never been cleaned.

Soon I was getting my blood-pressure checked and an IV put in. First a nurse put in the IV but waited until the doctor told me the risks before letting the drugs flow. The main risk was making a hole in the wall of my large intestine. “That would require surgery. Ready?” Then, in what seemed like seconds, I remember opening my eyes and seeing what looked like a throat on a TV screen. A squeaky clean throat too, by the way. I closed my eyes again and when I opened them, Jenny was coming into the recovery room where I had somehow been transferred. Then the doc entered to tell me the results. It all seemed to happen in quick succession. 

The drugs are what people have told me were the good part. To me they were good in that they made me sleep and not feel anything as a snake like camera entered my body through the back door. But, and maybe this is my own fault for not having a sorted drug life in my past, I did not feel anything special. Not even drowsiness. It was, drug, sleep, awake. Ok. I guess I was sleepy because I did go home and sleep for much of the day. 

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Friday, September 20, 2013

Vision

Our lovely Vision died. We went down to feed and he was lying down. Somehow in he had broken his leg. There was nothing we could do to save him. He died August 29th but I didn't want to talk about it. 






Sunday, August 04, 2013

Hay

Very little has happened to the hay barn since Tyler left but some progress has been made. I bolted the rest of the posts to their respective Simpson brackets. Last night our neighbor John helped me put a couple rafters up and I added more support cables. But look at the quality of this lumber:


It is warped, twisted, and split, but at least it was expensive. A friendly neighbor said it was "some of the best lumber he has seen..." and that was when I learned that my neighbor needs glasses.
More progress has been made on the hay barn since I began this post. We hired a local reggae DJ, Doctor Fresh, to help. The major time sensitive job that needed doing was the moving of twelve tons of hay into the barn. I moved 4 tons on my own and I think it was my physical appearance that made Jenny decide to hire a helper. In Jenny's words, "You look like you climbed Everest without oxygen during the Himalayan war and you lost. And it was hot and sunny and you got too much sun. And thousands of paper cuts. That's what you look like." I paraphrased (or completely made that up).


Before


After

Doctor Fresh also helped put more rafters and support cables up. The hay has proven to be an effective scaffolding to stand on while putting up rafters.

Chicken update:


Our chicks have turned into chickens - half of them roosters. These, by the way, are what you get when you cross a bantam Phoenix hen (second from right, rear) with a bantam Cochin rooster (deceased).



Saturday, July 20, 2013

Hay Barn

Tyler came to help ( by help I mean let me help him) build a hay barn. I emailed him a photo of a typical hay barn and he drew it in a design program. I ordered the lumber but Home Depot thought I just wanted a quote, so the lumber that was supposed to be delivered on a nice pallet before Tyler arrived was waiting for us in various stacks throughout southwestern Idaho. Some of the lumber was no doubt still tree shaped and attached to the ground with its own powerful roots. When the bulk of the lumber was ready for pickup at Boise Cascade ( about a 3 minute drive from the Airport were I had earlier picked up Tyler) a helpful man said, "That stack of lumber will snap your tailgate off." So we had to rent a trailer. During this ordeal, a certain Home Depot Pro Dest Name was bandied about with sentences like, "Blank should spend more time working his brain and less on his muscles." If I said to some one, "A guy at Home Depot told me this would be ready," the one word response I got most often was the name of this Pro Desk dude.
The days before Tyler's arrival were spent digging holes and trying to determine the best way to get concrete in the holes. Basically digging holes and filling holes. The first attempt was a trailer full of a yard and a half of mixed concrete from a place that also advertised Foxy Ladies.

Mixed concrete and 107 degree weather do not mix. Jenny and I managed to fill three holes with six left empty.  Getting the quickly solidifying concrete out of the giant trailer was a challenge (nightmare) as was figuring out where to put it. The next day I fetched 75 bags of concrete and mixed 68 of them to fill the remaining holes. I returned the remaining bags.

When Tyler arrived we quickly raised nine 14' 6x6 posts then proceded to slowly do a bunch of other stuff. Our tallest ladder was about 2' shorter than we needed it to be, and no amount of cajoling would make it change. We borrowed another ladder from the neighbor that was sadly shorter and just as stubborn.

By the time Tyler left on Sunday we had rafters on one half of the structure and cabling up on the north wall. We had also marked where the next face boards (?) (the boards that the rafters are attached too should be placed).



Thursday, June 13, 2013

Shearing

There is no such thing as a free lunch. Or a free pair of gloves or socks or a nice warm scarf. Removing the fiber from alpacas does not come without some cost, and I am not talking about the cost of professional shearers. First, we have to catch the poor sweeties. I was about to list everything that comes after but the photos below give a pretty good idea of what the alpacas go through. If I could add sound you could here what the two adults sounded like during the ordeal. Tiger Lily sounded like a small, high pitched horse. Siri sounded like a chicken in distress or a dog or a combination chicken/dog in distress. 
And when it was all done they looked like new animals. A different species even. They went from stubby-legged, chubby, furry creatures, to long-legged, long-necked, skinny, short-haired creatures.